I’ve been putting off writing this journal entry for a little while, but it can’t be avoided forever.
It’s now almost two weeks since my beloved mother passed away, but those two weeks have done little to ease the pain of losing her.
I sometimes feel I’m gaining control of my emotions, but that feeling comes and goes, only to be replaced by a deep despair. One minute I’m resigned to the fact that I’ll never be able to sit and talk with her again...the next minute I’m unable to accept that very same fact.
I’m living in a surreal world where she simultaneously exists and doesn’t exist.
To be honest, we thought we were about to lose her last year. At the beginning of October 2019 she was rushed into hospital in Wakefield with a suspected heart attack. I received a phone call from my nephew Julian to say that he’d called an ambulance and that she had been taken to the accident and emergency department at Pinderfields hospital. Emi and I drove over there from York as quickly as possible.
We found Mum in the A+E department, connected to various monitors but in a stable state. Like myself, she hated the idea of being in hospital and seemed more anxious about her surroundings than the condition of her heart.
Later she was moved onto a ward and we found her sitting, dressed, in a chair at the side of her bed. She seemed to have recovered fairly well and would be discharged in a day or two. We brought her some magazines, fruit and biscuits, and over the next day felt more positive about the outcome.
Then, on our next visit to the ward, she was nowhere to be seen and her bed had a different patient in it. After enquiring where Mum was we were taken to a private room where Mum lay, semi-conscious in a bed, hooked up to monitors and drips. We were told that she had a severe chest infection, probably pneumonia, a urine infection, and several other problems.
The next days, weeks and even months became a nightmare, a rollercoaster of slight improvements followed by further dramatic deteriation. Most of the time she seemed unconscious, or semi-conscious, and when awake was suffering from delerium and confusion. It was at this point that we feared that she had reached the end of her life.
We travelled to Wakefield every day to sit at her bedside for a few hours, willing her to get well. It dragged on mercilessly with no apparent improvement.
Then, one day, we were told that she had been moved downstairs to a different ward where we found her in yet another private room, but slightly more conscious and a little bit improved, though still clearly very ill.
The next day she was moved from the private room onto a ward with six beds occupied by other elderly ladies, some of whom were prone to bouts of strange behaviour. Mum was in a bed beside a big picture window with a reasonably pleasant view but, once again, her condition oscillated between poor to deeply worrying.
One of the problems had been that she wasn’t eating and drinking enough, dehydration being a major concern along with low blood pressure. She had been given fluids intravenously but now water on her lungs and heart were an issue and she needed medication to try and deal with that. It was a difficult balancing act.
Over the next few weeks we made our usual daily trip to Wakefield to spend time with her, sometimes feeling hopeful, sometimes feeling incredibly worried and depressed by it all.
Then one day, she was moved from Pinderfields hospital to a hospital in Dewsbury as the bed at Pinderfields was desperately needed for another patient. Once again, she was placed in a ward with other elderly ladies, some of whom seemed to be suffering from either dementia or other mental confusions. Mum too had her bouts of delerium during this time. It was deeply distressing.